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How to Make Something Awesome: Lessons on the Creative Process

I posted this 3 months ago at the Origin Design and Communications’ blog, but I’m still marinating in this easy 5 step process on how to make something awesome, as gleaned for a feature I wrote for SBC Skier from a one-on-one with Sherpas Cinema’s  Dave Mossop.


All.I.Can. Official Teaser from Sherpas Cinema on Vimeo.

1. Don’t be afraid of a big idea.

Creating a ski film with a theme has been one of the hugest challenges of my life.  The chapters and segments in All.I.Can are loosely based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – his theory provides quite a palatable explanation of the building blocks and stages necessary for a person to reach “self-actualization” or reach their full potential.  In the case of our environment, we are interested in humanity as a whole reaching actualization, and in turn, a balanced sustainable existence.

2. Commit yourself, boldly and publicly.

Dropping the trailer for All.I.Can last summer was kind of like Evil Knievel holding a press conference and saying, “Next year, I’m going to jump 150 cars in my underwear”. Half a million people have seen it. It’s being studied in film school. It’s a piece of art, in and of itself. But it’s also a promise and a contract with 500,000 people, to deliver. You can’t get more accountable than that.

It’s been the most intense year of my life, and though I signed up for this epic quest, I never dreamed there would be such an enormous following.  It’s awesome, but yes, the pressure can often be overwhelming – we are just regular dudes after all.

3. Give yourself a deadline. That you must meet. Or suffer public humiliation.

That would be the September 15 screening in Montreal at IF3 – the International Freeski Film Festival, followed by the world premiere in Whistleron September 23.

4. Trust your obsessions. (That would be time–lapse, I’m guessing?)

Dave Mossop capturing a seasonal time–lapse. Photo by Malcolm Sangster.

5. Make the process as fun as possible. Explore a question you are passionate and curious about. Take the dream trips for your research and shooting. Work with people you love and admire and have a blast hanging out with.

Single best moment of the past 2 years? That’s impossible to say, but my birthday party at 10,000ft on the Freshfields Icefields pops to mind.  Next day, not so much.

Freshfields Icefield camp. Photo: Malcolm Sangster.

6. Be disciplined and dig in for the hard yards.

As Scott Belsky, founder of Behance says, great work is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

And perspiration looks like this:

Mitchell Scott, (June 13): So how many hours of work left until we get to that day, September 23?

Dave Mossop: Whatever the days are between now and then, times 24 hours a day, plus about 300 hours, that we’ll manage to squeeze in there somehow.

You can order the film on DVD or Blu-Ray, here. Or download it on iTunes, here.

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